Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 14 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 748 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

task of fixing military punishments. From the English experience the Framers understood the necessity of balancing efficient military discipline, popular control of a standing army, and the rights of soldiers; they perceived the risks inherent in assigning the task to one part of the Government to the exclusion of another; and they knew the resulting parliamentary practice of delegation. The Framers' choice in Clause 14 was to give Congress the same flexibility to exercise or share power as times might demand.

In England after the Norman Conquest, military justice was a matter of royal prerogative. The rudiments of law in English military justice can first be seen in the written orders issued by the King for various expeditions. Winthrop 17-18. For example, in 1190 Richard I issued an ordinance outlining six offenses to which the crusaders would be subject, including two punishable by death: "Whoever shall slay a man on ship-board, he shall be bound to the dead man and thrown into the sea. If he shall slay him on land he shall be bound to the dead man and buried in the earth." Ordinance of Richard I—A. D. 1190, reprinted in id., at 903. The first comprehensive articles of war were those declared by Richard II at Durham in 1385 and Henry V at Mantes in 1419, which decreed capital offenses that not only served military discipline but also protected foreign noncombatants from the ravages of war. T. Meron, Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws: Perspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages 91-93 (1993). Articles of War, sometimes issued by military commanders acting under royal commission in the ensuing centuries, Winthrop 19, were not fixed codes, at least through the 17th century; rather, "each war, each expedition, had its own edict," which lost force after the cessation of hostilities and the disbanding of the army that had been formed. J. Pipon & J. Collier, Manual of Military Law 14 (3d rev. ed. 1863).

Thus, royal ordinances governed the conduct of war, but the common law did not countenance the enforcement of mili-


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